Life is too short to work for a jerk. Keep your freedom. Don’t be afraid to walk away – something better will show up
We all spend a significant portion of our lives at work. It’s where we make our living, build relationships, and develop our careers. So, it’s important that we enjoy our work and feel valued by our employers.
Unfortunately, not all workplaces are created equal. Some are filled with jerks who make our lives miserable. These people may be arrogant, self-centered, and disrespectful. They may belittle their employees, make them feel worthless, or even bully them.
Working for an uncaring person can have a devastating impact on our mental and emotional health. It can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and even physical illness. It can also make us feel unhappy, unfulfilled, and unmotivated. It’s no secret that the #1 reason people leave a company is the relationship with their boss – that is a greater number than those who leave strictly for money or a better all-round opportunity.
So what can we do if we’re working for a jerk?
First, we need to recognize that we’re not alone. Many people have had to deal with this exact problem! And there are things we can do to cope with the situation and protect ourselves.
Here are a few tips:
- Set boundaries – Don’t let the person’s behavior control you. Set clear boundaries and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. As a wise person once said, it’s not the water outside the boat that sinks the boat. It’s the water inside the boat that sinks the boat. While it’s easier said than done to keep someone “outside” – nonetheless if you can do it, you may resolve the problem right there. Many times, the situation has developed gradually; like the frog in the pot of boiling water, we’re not exactly aware of it till we stop for a moment to examine it objectively.
- Document the person’s behavior – If the person’s behavior is creating a hostile work environment, you may need to document it. This can help you if you decide to file a complaint with your employer or the EEOC.
- Talk to your manager – If the difficult person is not your direct supervisor, you may want to talk to your manager about the situation. However, be prepared for your manager to not be supportive. They may or may not have the desire or ability.
- Find a new job – If the situation is truly unbearable, find a new job. This may be the best way to protect your mental and emotional health. Challenging? Yes. But liberating? Yes. You may need to plan ahead – for example, in order to make the bonus payout date, or spending at least a year in a job, or to have enough savings on hand in case you need time to land the new role; but even the actions of planning to leave will help make the interim manageable. The situation doesn’t just stretch off to infinity.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to put up with a jerk at work. Life is too short to be miserable. If you’re working for a jerk, don’t be afraid to walk away. Something better will show up.
Tips to avoid hiring jerky people
- Screen out jerks during the interview process – Ask open-ended questions that will give you a sense of the person’s personality and values.
- Check references thoroughly – Don’t just rely on the references the person provides. Talk to people who have worked with the person in the past.
- Create a positive work environment – A positive work environment is less likely to attract jerks. Make sure your employees feel valued and respected.